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High-intensity strength training is considered a convenient, safe and effective way for older people with diabetes to improve control of their blood sugar, say researchers at the USDA Human Nutritional Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.
The effects of high-intensity strength training—defined as working out on weight machines and rowing machines three times per week—was studied on 31 Hispanic men and women with diabetes and of an average age of 66. Half of the subjects participated in the strength-training program and the other half did not.
According to study findings presented at the recent Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, Florida, after 16 weeks, the strength-training group had better control over their blood sugars than those who did not participate in the training.
Study co-author Jennifer Layne told Reuters Health that strength training benefits people with diabetes because it increases the body’s uptake of blood sugar. Because skeletal muscle accounts for 70 to 80 percent of removal of sugar from the bloodstream, weight training increases skeletal mass. Other forms of exercise only maintain muscle mass, rather than increase it.
Layne also told Reuters Health that the strength-training program also lowered the intake of saturated fat, "possibly because the training made them feel healthier and more inclined to watch what they ate."
The researchers advise older people with diabetes, however, to consult with a doctor before starting such an exercise regimen.
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